Millennials have been dragged, slandered, and generally laughed at on the internet by Gen Z for their obsession with the Harry Potter series. But for all the jokes about how Millennials over-identify with their Hogwarts house, it’s hard not to join in on the fun.
The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been a mainstay of internet culture since the first wave of kids raised on Harry Potter got online. Now 20 years old, it’s not an exaggeration to say that J.K Rowling’s renowned fantasy series has been nothing short of revolutionary. Its immersive world of magic lets you participate in a wider Harry Potter community by sorting yourself into one of the four Hogwarts houses: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin.
Joining a Hogwarts house is just a literary fandom classic at this point. But if you’re tired of the traditional four Hogwarts houses, the Ilvermorny houses of the American wizarding world might be more your style.
Why Do We Even Have the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?
The Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is the American counterpart to the Hogwarts School and it only came into existence because the founder of the American school couldn’t get into Hogwarts. But not in the way you think.
Ilvermorny and its houses were all founded in 1627, about 637 years after Hogwarts itself was founded. The school isn’t so much a branch of the older wizarding institution as a localized twist on it.
Isolt Sayre, Ilvermorny’s founder, was a descendant of the pure-blood House of Gaunt which had blood ties to Salazar Slytherin, the founder of Slytherin house. Despite their associations with what are essentially magical racists, Isolt’s parents cut ties in order to help Muggles by giving them magical medicine. But when Isolt was only five, her family died in a tragic fire from which her aunt, Gormlaith Gaunt, rescued her.
The rescue wasn’t a happy ending since Gaunt abused her and refused to let her attend Hogwarts because the school had started accepting Muggleborn witches and wizards. Her forceful isolation made Isolt think of Hogwarts as a magical paradise for witches and wizards of any descent. She eventually escaped by pretending to be a Muggle boy by the name of Elias Story. Isolt found herself in North America after boarding the Mayflower in 1620.
She realized that the Puritans wouldn’t be kind to a witch and decided to bail. While living in the mountains, she saved a Pukwudgie from death.
Later on, Isolt would adopt a group of boys who became her and her husband James’ adopted sons. She would tell them stories about Hogwarts that made them want to attend the English school just as badly as she did. But because she was afraid of running into Gaunt again, she promised to start a new wizarding school just for them.
This desire to fulfill her adopted sons’ dreams and her own childhood aspirations gave Isolt the inspiration to open the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and, with it, the Ilvermorny houses of Horned Serpent, Wampus, Thunderbird, and, of course, Pukwudgie.
The Four Ilvermorny Houses
Horned Serpent House
You wouldn’t be the first to assume that this house is the American equivalent to Hogwarts’ Slytherin house. However, Horned Serpent is actually closer to Ravenclaw in ideals and values.
The Horned Serpent is a mythical animal with strong psychic and intellectual associations. It’s said to represent the mind and, according to J.K Rowling, the house tends to favor people with a more scholarly temperament.
This Ilvermorny house was founded by Isolt Sayre herself after an encounter with a Horned Serpent. With no source of wands or wand materials available in America, Isolt worried about how she was going to give her adopted son Chadwick a present for his eleventh birthday. She had promised to give him a wand but had none available other than the one she brought with her from Ireland.
The night before Chadwick’s birthday, Isolt had a dream that she met a Horned Serpent at a creek. In the dream, the serpent offered her its horn from which she shaved off a shard to create a wand.
Taking it as a prophetic sign, Isolt went to the creek the next morning and received part of the Horned Serpent’s horn. She brought the material back to her husband James who then created one of the first American wands.
The funny-sounding name of this Ilvermorny house comes from a mythical hybrid creature that’s called, you guessed it, a wampus. The wampus is a mix between a panther and a cat. Pretty tame in the context of magical school houses, especially if you compare it to Gryffindor.
Out of all the Ilvermorny houses, it’s the Wampus and Gryffindor houses that are the most equivalent to each other. Both houses value bravery and have a warrior’s spirit as their defining theme. Wampus house also earned the most house points in 1926, towering over the rest of the houses with 450 points. Guess the warrior houses are always competitive.
The Wampus house was founded by Webster Boot, one of the boys that James and Isolt adopted. While their family was thinking of names and animals that could represent each of the Ilvermorny houses, Webster decided to name his house after the wampus because it was his favorite magical creature.
Some folkloric sources describe the wampus as a green-eyed cat with mythical powers.
The wampus makes an appearance in the original Harry Potter series during the 1990-1991 school year when a Wampus attacked Dolores Umbridge in Hogsmeade after which it was tracked down and placed in the care of Hagrid, the Hogwarts groundskeeper.
No wonder the wampus was used to represent the Ilvermorny house that’s filled with warrior types.
Can we talk about how cool that name sounds? Thunderbird. The name of this Ilvermorny house is taken from a large, magical bird-like creature native to the southwestern United States, particularly Arizona.
As you can probably guess from the name, the thunderbird is known for having the power to magically conjure storms, lightning, thunder, and rain which makes sense considering the arid climate of the place the creature is associated with.
The high flying thunderbird is described as having the head of an eagle along with three wings that had cloud-like patterns on its feathers which changed color from a gold hue to different shades of blue, grey, silver, and white, all of which reflect the color of the sky under different weather conditions.
Similar to the phoenix, a creature associated with rebirth, the thunderbird was used by Chadwick Boot as it represented the soul of a witch or wizard. The Thunderbird Ilvermorny house is known to favor adventurers and people who are free-spirited at heart.
Pukwudgie house is unique among the Ilvermorny houses for being the only one that was named by a No-Maj, a term that refers to people who can’t perform magic like witches and wizards in the world of Harry Potter. Its founder was James Steward, Isolt Sayre’s husband, who decided to name this Ilvermorny house after their William, his wife’s pukwudgie friend.
Like Thunderbird house, there’s no direct equivalent among the Hogwarts houses but if you really need a reference point, the closest resemblance of Pukwudgie house is Hufflepuff.
There’s still little to go off of for the Ilvermorny houses especially when compared to the sheer amount of material we have available for Hogwarts houses. But let’s flesh out Pukwudgie house.
Like Hufflepuff, Pukwudgie is known for its more down-to-earth values. While Thunderbird favors adventurers, Horned Serpent takes the scholarly academics, and Wampus prefers Ilvermorny students with a lot of guts, Pukwudgie favors healers and represents the heart.
Hold up. Favoring healers and representing the heart? By the sound of it, this Ilvermorny house seems less oriented to an ideal than it is to a profession. But look a bit deeper and it starts to make more sense.
As healers belonging to a heart-oriented house, we can assume that Pukwudgie students are incredibly emotionally astute and have a keen sense for how they can make other people’s lives better, similar to how Isolt’s parents used to provide magical cures to Muggles.
The physical aspect of healing, the part that gets the body running in tip-top shape again, is certainly there. But more than that, the crucial element behind being a Pukwudgie student seems to be having a great capacity for empathy and doing the right thing for other people’s well-being.
Getting Sorted Into the Ilvermorny Houses
Fans of Harry Potter already know how the Hogwarts Sorting Ceremony goes. You sing the school’s official song “Hoggy Warty Hogwarts” and listen to a speech by one of the professors or the Headmaster before the real fun begins.
Getting sorted into one of the four Ilvermorny houses is a lot more magical than sitting in a chair while the Sorting Hat reads your thoughts. Instead of having your brain be scanned by a magical hat, you get chosen by one of the mythical creatures that represent each house.
New Ilvermorny students are brought into a circular room with a marble floor that has a Gordian knot engraved at its center. Students are asked to stand next to the walls of the room before being called into the knot where they’re assessed by the four Sorting Statues of the Ilvermorny houses.
Older students sitting on the balcony on the second floor watch as one of the statues glow, indicating that they had claimed the student standing in the knot as one of their own.
If you get sorted into Horned Serpent, the gem located on the statue’s forehead will glow in a way that’s reminiscent of how Isolt gained the raw material for the first wand that James made.
For students chosen by the Wampus, they get a proud and resounding roar of acceptance. If a lucky student gets into Thunderbird instead, the statue will flap its wings. As for new Pukwudgie students, they get treated to a sight of the Pukwudgie shooting its arrow.
This doesn’t mean students don’t get any choice in how they get sorted. The system is admittedly rigid like Hogwarts’ sorting since you’re basically told what house you belong to. But if more than one house claims you, you get to pick from among them. One such case was of MACUSA president Seraphina Picquery who ultimately chose Horned Serpent.
Because one of the founders of the Ilvermorny houses was a Non-Maj wandmaker, students don’t have to bring their own wand to Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Right after their Sorting Ceremony, students are taken to a hall where they can choose their wand.
What’s the point in knowing all this?
So you can enjoy the Ilvermorny sorting experience in your own head when you take your sorting quiz. The original sorting quiz for the American school of magic seems to have been removed entirely from all of the Harry Potter official websites as of 2020. But don’t fear! You can still have your Ilvermorny Sorting Ceremony through Wizardmore’s quiz. If you’re not happy with the results, there’s also an extended version of the sorting quiz available on the same site.
For those wondering, here’s my Ilvermorny House:
No surprise there.
Let us know which of the Ilvermorny houses you got sorted into!